I would often say, in the run-up to last November's elections, that it wasn't 1939 yet, but it was getting close.

Over the past few days and weeks, I have come closer and closer to thinking that maybe we've crossed a threshold.

[John] Yoo also argued that the Constitution granted the President plenary powers to override the U.N. Convention Against Torture when he is acting in the nation’s defense—a position that has drawn dissent from many scholars. As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.” He continued, “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.” If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the constitutional remedy was impeachment. He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”
It is the very core of the Commander In Chief function to be above the law. And Americans are assumed to have approved this by electing George W. Bush to a second term. That's what the president meant when he said, "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections."
We are disappearing people, rendering them to friendly governments that aren't afraid to put the electrode to genitals and threaten with dog rape. And we are building our own infrastructure of torture and extra legal imprisonment. It is a law of human nature that if you build it, they will come. This infrastructure will be expanded and bureaucratized. It's already happening. And when they decide, as Professor Yoo has already decided, that an election is a sanctioning of anything the President chooses to do in the War on Terror, it is only a matter of time before internal political enemies become a threat.

And then it will be us.
And then there's this:
...as Oregonian Rep. Earl Blumenauer said on the floor yesterday:
If this provision, the waiver of all laws necessary for quote improvements of barriers at the border was to become law, the Secretary of Homeland Security could give a contract to his political cronies that had no safety standards, using 12-year-old illegal immigrants to do the labor, run it through the site of a Native American burial ground, kill bald eagles in the process, and pollute the drinking water of neighboring communities. And under the provisions of this act, no member of Congress, no citizen could do anything about it because you waive all judicial review.
....Amidst it all, though, here's possibly the most bizarre part: Smuggler's Gulch is apparently extremely secure according to the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Patrol. I was just told by their public affairs office that it was "not on a very high priority"; since Operation Gatekeeper in the early to mid-'90s, they've "put a stop to the vehicular traffic" and where "it used to take 15-20 agents to have an impact in that area, today we benefit from having possibly one or two agents."

So why the focus? Beats me. As I was told by a House aide:

I’d have to say that that really baffled us. Just trying to imagine what could possibly be the reason -- there’s got to be a reason here other than the border fence. They’re trying to set a precedent here. … The reason for this coming to Congress is much larger than 3 miles in San Diego. … It’s just inconceivable that we’re using all of this might for these three miles [emphasis added].
It's not inconceivable - these people are not particularly subtle and, as noted previously, are without honor or shame - but it's not the case. This is a precedent. A precedent for the government to, using an obscure Constitutional provision, declare all laws null and void in their pursuit of their goals. Just as, above, they are creating a precedent for the President to be entirely, eternally, above the law and unaccountable to anyone. This is what is happening.

Things are closing in, and just as a proud few righteous warriors are throwing back the curtains for the world to see what is happening. Sinclair, Armstrong Williams, "Jeff Gannon": propaganda; politically-motivated IRS audits; torture and extra-legal detentions, again and again- the noose tightens ever more.

Where do we go from here? It is as bad as I had feared; indeed, it is worse than even I feared. Will there be a moment when it is all, finally, too much? Will it be that obvious, or universal, or is this a more existential kind of terror, with each of us potentially reaching that point alone. If there's no breaking point, if each day is a marginal diminuation, each day an inch until one day there's nothing there, and we didn't even see it blink out.

I have food in my belly, a roof over my head, a paycheck for a while and a reasonable assurance that another one won't be hard to find; a modern city, infrastructure, a train to my front door, a wide range of advanced, abstract financial instruments at my disposal for continued comfort; the highest technology tools for personal entertainment and productivity; friends, family, education.

When do you say that all of that is worth giving up? The answer, at the end, is that you willingly give up all of that when you can see that it could all get taken away tomorrow, by forces that are not just out of your control, but hostile to your continued existence, happiness, success.

We're not there yet. Keep your eyes open, kids, go have a beer and a laugh.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?